New York Extends Guaranteed Paid Sick Leave
On April 3, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill “guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.” In addition to guaranteeing job protection for those infected with COVID-19, the law also provides general permanent paid sick leave to employees moving forward.
Effective September 30, 2020, employees will begin to accrue sick leave at the rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked at the start of employment or on the effective date of the law (i.e., September 30, 2020), whichever is later. Although employees will begin to accrue sick time on September 30, 2020, employees may only begin using such leave on or after January 1, 2021.
The bill allows employers to implement an accrual cap on sick leave based on an employer’s number of employees and its net income.
- Employers with 4 or fewer employees in any calendar year and net income of $1 million or less in the previous tax year: Must provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.
- Employers with 4 or fewer employees in any calendar year and a net income greater than $1 million in the previous tax year: Must provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
- Employers with 5 to 99 employees in any calendar year: Must provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
- Employers with 100 or more employees in any calendar year: Must provide employees with up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
Employers have the option of frontloading sick leave, thereby providing the total amount of sick leave at the beginning of the calendar year. Employers that do so, however, cannot reduce the amount of frontloaded sick leave in the event that an employee does not accrue the full amount of leave based on their hours worked. Employers are permitted to set increments for employees to use paid sick leave, which may not exceed four (4) hour increments. In addition, the bill provides that employees may carryover unused sick leave at year-end. Employers, however, with fewer than 100 employees may limit an employee’s use of sick leave to 40 hours per year, and employers with 100 or more employees may limit use to 56 hours per year. Employers are responsible for tracking the amount of leave used by each employee.
Employees may use sick leave for the following purposes:
- for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of such employee or such employee’s family member, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that such employee requests such leave;
- for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of, or preventive care for, such employee or such employee’s family member;
- for the employee to avail themselves or a covered family member of services or assistance in connection with certain absences related to domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, as those terms are defined under New York law.
The term “family member” is defined to include an employee’s (1) child, (2) spouse, (3) domestic partner, (4) parent, (5) sibling, (6) grandchild (7) grandparent, and (8) the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Further, when using paid sick leave, employees must be paid at their regular rate of pay, or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater.
Similar to other leave laws, the bill prohibits discrimination and retaliation against employees who use sick leave. Specifically, after using and returning from sick leave, employees must be reinstated to their position, with equivalent pay and other terms and conditions of their employment.
Finally, employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information in verifying the need for New York sick leave.
Please contact Scott R. Matthews or John H. Keneally if you have any questions or wish to develop and implement a paid time off policy for your business or determine whether your current policy meets the leave requirements provided by this law.
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